Folic Acid vs Folate – Fake vs Real

Sep 12, 2016


What are they?

Folate, also known as Folacin and B9 vitamin, occurs naturally in our food and is an important vitamin for our health. However, there has been a lasting confusion between the difference of Folic Acid and Folate, as they are often used as equals to one another. But is that really the case? Well, Folic Acid is often actually referred to as the less-impactful, supplemental form of folate that is added to modify food and dairy products. However, Folic Acid is unnecessary and can even be unhealthy when used abundantly. This is especially true if you are past the age to have children, or if you are a male.

What are the differences?

  • Folate is naturally occurring while Folic Acid is Synthetic.
  • Folate is much, much easier for the body to digest, while Folic Acid requires the help of an enzyme found in the liver known as dihydrofolate reductase. This is a slow-reacting enzyme and, because of the fact that we consume so much of this acid in our diets, it can lead to an overabundance of undigested Folic Acid within our bloodstream which is not healthy.
  • Folate, because of its origin from plants, has been around for centuries. While, in comparison, Folic Acid has only been around since 1943 when it was synthesized.

What are the side-effects of Folic Acid?

Because of the fact that many health and dietary agencies have used the terms “Folate” and “Folic Acid” interchangeably, it has lead the population to believe both are natural and in fact good for our health. However, this could not be further from the truth. But you may be asking – what is the real damage of Folic Acid? Well, an excessive amount of un-metabolized Folic Acid in our bodies has actually been linked to the development and enhanced growth of cancer and prenoeoplastic lesions, such as polyps within the colon. But is that all? No. The supplementation of this acid can also be the root of:

  • Lack of focus
  • Mood swings
  • Rashes
  • Sleep disorders and discomfort
  • Cramping
  • Gas
  • Increased chance of heart attack or heart disease
  • B12 deficiency
  • And even intensified seizures in people with seizure disorders!

How can a Folate deficiency affect me?

B9 deficiency symptoms can include:

  • Swelling
  • Diarrhea and digestive issues
  • Paleness
  • Fatigue
  • Growth problems
  • Premature gray hair
  • Mouth sores
  • Shortness of breath
  • And lethargy

How can I be deficient in Folate and how do I ‘cure’ it?

The upmost cause of Folate deficiency is that of diet, as it is found in what we eat.Other reasons for B9 deficiency are those of diseases that cause absorption issues within the intestine, genetics that do not allow for proper conversion of Folate to its usable form, and medications that can cause Folate deficiency (such as phenytoin and methotrexate).

Deficiency is diagnosed by blood test and can be treated by increasing dietary intake of folate or by taking folate supplements (not folic acid!).

What foods have proven to have a lot of folate?

Greens and many proteins are packed with folate. Specifically, some foods that have good amount of Folate include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Poultry
  • Kidney
  • Eggs
  • Beans and legumes
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Citrus and other fruits such as bananas
  • Liver
  • Cereal
  • Pork
  • And Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and broccoli

I hope with this article I have expressed the real truth about Folic Acid and have given you the tools to make good choices when it comes to supplementing for Folate. So what do you think? Could this difference really mean that much to your heath? There is only one way to find out!

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Sarah Clark empowers couples to discover how lifestyle and diet can dramatically impact their chances of conceiving. She was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure at 28 and had both her kids with donor eggs. Not until years later did she discover that the root cause of her infertility was a food intolerance. Join the Free Fab Fertile Support Group on Facebook for mini-challenges, motivation and inspiration!